“It was good timing,” says Peggy Mackowski, since her husband and company co-owner David Mackowski was working on his CAPS (Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist) designation through the National Association of Home Builders. The training made David aware of maneuverability considerations and disability challenges. (Training includes spending part of a day in a wheelchair, or wearing glasses blurred by Vaseline, or only working with one's less-used hand.)
In this attic, QDC reversed the company's usual remodeling phases, first installing a chair glide so the client could see the project's progress and provide input on how she would use the space and where to place the light switches and electrical outlets.
In the attic bathroom, the remodeler installed a comfort-height toilet, a pedestal sink, and a curbless shower with grab bars and a seat, enabling the homeowner to easily transfer back to her wheelchair after bathing. The shower features a lever faucet and a thermostatic valve to regulate water temperature.
But the Mackowskis think that using CAPS principles shouldn't be just for those who are already facing challenges. “If we're doing work for a middle-aged couple who want to stay in their home for a long time, we might incorporate CAPS principles — wider doorways and hallways, multiple-height vanities in bathrooms, multiple-height countertops in kitchens, more lighting, hard-surface floors — into their project.”
You don't have to compromise on design: Lever handles, which are easier to maneuver, are in style; lower counters in kitchens can be used as a desk or a low-seating bar; and who would quibble over more space around an island, or landscaping that encourages direct entry from the driveway rather than using stairs?
The Velux skylights are remote-controlled. The homeowner also helped QDC locate wall switches 42 inches and
outlets 18 inches above the pre-finished hardwood floor.